Bill Allen of Worcester Regional Flight Academy Brings an Artistic Flair to Flying
By Richard Price
She was a college girl, sitting in the back seat, her boyfriend in the front passenger seat. She was teasing the man at the controls, a man who was at least three times her age. There was some good-natured back and forth, then he asked, “Do you like roller coasters?” as he pulled the yoke back, toying with the laws of gravity.
The “car” crested, and then dove toward earth in a heart stopping lesson of aerodynamics and physics. This is how Bill Allen, now 64, the chief flight instructor sitting in the pilot’s seat, sold the unwitting couple flight lessons.
“It’s all about using the energy of the plane to go up and down,” Allen said as he told me the story. “I know what forces I can allow the plane to do without over-stressing it.”
Piloting a single engine high wing Cessna is all about physics and many hours of training, but it’s also about being “one” with the aircraft. A guitar player becomes a musician when the chords are second nature. Likewise, a student can retain enough numbers and flight simulations to become a pilot, but when he is “one” with the craft he evolves, naturally and unpretentiously, into an aviator. “It becomes an art,” Allen told me. “The art of music, the art of flying, the art of being able to do it in a flowing manner.”
Allen, with his thick Beatle-esque mop top of white hair, is chatty and energetic and routinely finds a strong connection between music and mechanics. When driving his car, he often notices the blinker in metronomic sync with the song on his radio.
Flying high above the Worcester Regional Flight Academy, a family run business that offers lessons to students of all levels, Allen likes to mold the plane’s energy musically. “When you have the knowledge of how a plane works, you can make it graceful,” he said. Once you understand what the plane can do, it’s amazing.”
A retired commercial refrigeration repairman, flying is Allen’s second career, but he also considers it a hobby, listing it along with his obvious love of music (he owns six guitars and built a recording studio in his home), and a passion for computers and gaming (Modern Warfare is his favorite). It’s inspiring to find someone who derives so much joy from his day-to-day job.
Though there’s no denying that he has endless fun in the sky, Allen always has a well-trained and uber-experienced eye on safety. Scanning for open fields in case he needs to make an emergency landing is one of the most important precautions he takes ~ but once all the safety elements are to his satisfaction, there is no stopping Allen ~ he’s up, up, and away on his own personal carnival ride.
“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
For more information on Worcester Regional Flight Academy, including flying lessons, aircraft rentals, youth programs, and Scenic Tours of Central Massachusetts, please visit www.worcesterregionalflightacademy.com.